A little over a month into our time here, and it feels like the semester is flying by. With so much that I want to see and so many places to go, we are trying to make the most of our time by exploring whenever possible.
Although classes are well underway, I only have one class each day allowing me plenty of time to go into town and find a new café, wander around the city, or go to a restaurant for some food that’s better than what the dining hall serves.
Unlike at Dillin Hall, we have only one option every night: you either eat the vegetarian entrée or the one with meat. Unfortunately, as a vegetarian, this leaves me with one choice every night. Although the quality of food is comparable to Dillin, the lack of options makes me less than enthusiastic. Like Linfield we have meal card money, aka “daily bites”, that allows us to buy food from the coffee shops, restaurants and bars on campus. This is a life saver when dinner just doesn’t sound that good, but I don’t want to leave campus or spend real money.
Last weekend we “played tourist” in Nottingham. We went to Nottingham Castle, found the Robin Hood statue and visited the oldest inn in England- Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem.
If you don’t know, the legend of Robin Hood takes place in Nottingham and the Sherwood Forest. When I was still in the States and I told people that I would be in Nottingham they always mentioned Robin Hood, so I decided I had to find the statue as photographic proof that I was living where he once did. The statue is right outside the castle, which, unfortunately, is under construction until 2020.
Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem is the oldest bar in England, established 1189 AD. It is built into the side of a cliff next to the castle and is said to be where King Richard the Lionheart and his men gathered before heading to Jerusalem. The bar has its history splattered on the walls, from swords to paintings.
During the week we also visited the Wollaton Deer Park, which is right across the street from campus. The park is amazing, with expansive grounds, a pond and a private golf course. Wollaton Hall, better known as Wayne Manor to anyone who has seen The Dark Knight Rises, houses a natural history museum. While walking the grounds, you can see herds of deer, you can sit by the pond, or if you were there when we were, you could see animatronic dinosaurs set up around the park as part of an exhibit about the Jurassic Kingdom (see picture). Needless to say, it was an amazing way to spend an afternoon and learn about the city we’re living in!
This weekend we ventured to Wales. We booked an Airbnb in a quaint town, Penperlleni, an hour bus ride from Cardiff. We had a little cottage all to ourselves, and luckily it had heat. So far on this trip, I have never been as cold as I was in Wales. Bone chilling wind and just plain cold weather kept us bundled up the whole weekend.
Friday, we made our way to Wales from Nottingham, arriving at our Airbnb eight hours after our train departed from Nottingham Station. From a three-hour train ride, missing our next train and waiting an hour and a half for the bus that would take us to Penperlleni, we were frozen and ready for a night soaking in the warmth of the cottage. A whole day of traveling in the brutal cold called for board games and fuzzy socks Friday night, so we would be ready for a day of walking around Cardiff.
Saturday we made it to Cardiff after a much shorter wait for the bus, and a better understanding of the bus system in Wales. We found cute vintage stores and used bookstores at Castle Arcade. Here I found a copy of Moby Dick and a book of poems by the Brontë sister, both of which were printed in the early 1900s.
We also went to Cardiff Castle. Located in the middle of the city, the castle has massive stone walls stretching around a large courtyard. The actual castle sits on a small hill in the center of the courtyard. You can pay to walk through the castle and around the courtyard, but we chose to just walk in as far as they let you without a ticket and then wandered around the gift shop. All weekend we marveled at the signs in Welsh trying to understand the language, but never actually figuring it out. Luckily the signs are also in English.
For now, it’s back to the books for me. Fortunately, I don’t really have homework – just reading for classes- which means more time planning my next trip.